Our Philosophy

Our philosophy is to ensure children are safe, having fun and developing the knowledge and skills required for a professional career in performing arts. Not everyone chooses to go along that career path, however that is our baseline for teaching. Every decision we make is in the best interests of our students.

We teach Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Drama, Singing, Musical Theatre, Street Dance, Acro, and Singing for 3-18 year olds. As well as training to a professional standard, students also grow in confidence, keep fit and improve their focus and concentration.

Our students build life-long friendships in a safe and positive environment and most importantly, they have a lot of fun.

 

Exploring the Dancing Star

We are born to move. The brain is at is most optimal state when it is engaged in complex movement, and our mind and emotions have an outlet in which to express ourselves through the body. The ability to move freely, dance, and perform according to our promptings is one of the most wonderful gifts we can offer ourselves: we are empowered, courageous, explorers, performers, and realisers.

Over the next five weeks, we’re going to look at each of these factors in more detail, examining how all of us can incorporate empowerment, courage, exploration, performance, and realisation both on and off the stage.

‘Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.’ T.S. Eliot

Exploration conjures up images of one traversing the planet, scaling Mount Everest, and finding a lost civilisation in the Amazon, however, in every moment we can be explorers, especially on the stage.

Shai-Faran-aboutWhat exactly does ‘exploration’ mean? For me, exploration is chartering unknown waters to discover limitation and overcome these. A few months ago, I began dance classes with the wonderful Shai Faran which included making waves and circles with each section of the body in an isolated fashion. At first I felt clumsy, even silly, as I grappled with the technique – I was in unknown territory. Much like the physical sensation of arriving in a new and strange place, I was both excited and bewildered by these new movements and I could actually feel my brain processing these! As the session drew to a close though, I was slowly adapting to the new landscape and was exploring movement in a different form.

As performers at Didsbury Theatre School, you have a great opportunity to learn in a manner that is risky, daring, for you put yourself in the spotlight by simply trying something new. If you look at the small picture it probably feels rubbish when you get a move wrong or you can’t immediately master a routine. Let’s look at the bigger picture though:

In stepping outside of what you know, you’ve opened yourself to a new experience and embraced  your fear of ‘getting it wrong’, with the fear more powerful than actually making a mistake! Embracing the unknown, you are now exploring an aspect of yourself that until now you were unacquainted with, and taking the difficult task of truly knowing yourself.

Stepping away from what is comfortable and moving towards what scares and excites us is one action that helps us to understand the most important thing we have: ourselves. So when you’re next berating yourself on not being ‘perfect’ at something new, remember that all explorers have to make mistakes, feel messy and perhaps get lost in order to find the right path for them.

As Friedrich Nietzsche said:

‘I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.’

Now be the dancing star both on and off the stage!

Practical tips

  • Recall the feeling you had when you last learnt something new
  • Imagine yourself undergoing the task with no fear, only excitement of discovery
  • If you are fearful, imagine your ideal self, feel what this is like, and ask yourself these questions:
    • What have I got to lose?
    • What do I stand to gain?
    • How does this help me towards my ambitions?

Song of the week

Son Lux – Lost it to Trying

Fearfully Courageous

We are born to move. The brain is at is most optimal state when it is engaged in complex movement, and our mind and emotions have an outlet in which to express ourselves through the body. The ability to move freely, dance, and perform according to our promptings is one of the most wonderful gifts we can offer ourselves: we are empowered, courageous, explorers, performers, and realisers.

Over the next five weeks, we’re going to look at each of these factors in more detail, examining how all of us can incorporate empowerment, courage, exploration, performance, and realisation both on and off the stage.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not the absence of fear”

Mark Twain

Every day presents to the opportunity to confront what makes us fearful, which can be something as simple as smiling at a stranger, or standing up and presenting a project to our classmates. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by fear as our hearts beat hard, heat rises through the body, and the stomach makes somersaults, however, as performers, you also know that fear can push you to amazing new heights and unleash a power you never knew existed.

Fear in no way implies weakness, it is a natural response to situations we are uncomfortable with. What is important here is how fixed we are within our ‘comfort zone’, and as the saying goes, the ability to ‘do something everyday that scares us’. Why is stepping out of our comfort zone important? Well, it exposes the self-limiting beliefs held and demonstrates just how amazingly adaptable we really are. Take for example Adele. Talking in an interview about stage fright, she said: “One show in Amsterdam, I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit. I’ve thrown up a couple of times. Once in Brussels, I projectile-vomited on someone. I just gotta bear it.”

adele-live-at-the-brit-awards--1297804684-view-1

Now imagine if Adele succumbed to stage fright? The spine-tingling Brit Award performance would not exist! Instead of being taken away by fear, Adele and countless other performers, including you, use the rush of emotions to push them to amazing new heights.

It’s easy to look at other people as being more courageous as oneself, but the scary truth is is that we are all inherently courageous, we only express it in varying degrees. Recalling a memory of a spell-binding performance or class presentation highlights how courageous we really are and demonstrates the ability to use fear to our advantage. What matters here is how often courage is expressed as it is the memory of overcoming fear that ignites the resolve to be courageous in this moment.

Being courageous is what we all are: authentically amazing in every moment, we just need a little fear to unleash it. So as the saying goes, do something everyday that scares you!

Tips for being courageous:

Smile at a stranger instead of looking away

Make a goal and a plan of action to achieve it

Bring to mind a time when you positively surprised yourself

Do a handstand in the park!

Take 10 deep breaths when you next feel fearful/overwhelmed

Song for courage:

Girl on Fire, Alicia Keys

Empower and express yourself!

We are born to move. The brain is at is most optimal state when it is engaged in complex movement, and our mind and emotions have an outlet in which to express ourselves through the body. The ability to move freely, dance, and perform according to our promptings is one of the most wonderful gifts we can offer ourselves: we are empowered, courageous, explorers, performers, and realisers.

Over the next five weeks, we’re going to look at each of these factors in more detail, examining how all of us can incorporate empowerment, courage, exploration, performance, and realisation both on and off the stage.

Empowerment

Have you ever been on the bus listening to a great song and imagined how you’d move to the beat? Pirouetting, gliding, waving, and rolling – you’re moving with such grace that you know no boundaries, you’re empowered by you’re limitlessness. Empowerment is defined as the ability to make something stronger, and it is a very personal journey. Sure, teachers can help us on the path to empowerment, but it is only from the inside that we can become empowered.

Making ‘something’ stronger

What is this something we seek to make stronger? How can performing arts which is so wrapped up with critique and judgment activate empowerment? We look to strengthen both the inside and outside without seeking approval from others. Popular thought goes along the lines of “Boys are strong, girls are flexible”, an erroneous belief that keeps us within the constrains of prevailing opinions, but if empowerment is to rise within, it’s important to distinguish whether we are simply conforming or being true to who we are.

Misty Copeland empowermentEven in the deeply traditional world of classical ballet can one break down dogmatic walls. Take Misty Copeland who only started ballet at 13, was rejected by a number of schools, but went on to become the first black female soloist at the American Ballet Theatre. Through dance she found her inner/outer strength, and used this limitless power to succeed. Misty realised that she wasn’t what people thought of her, but was whatever she wished to be.

Through the body we can build our resilience to such limiting opinions for if we feel physically strong, we are more likely to express this mentally. Engaging regularly in movement that fosters strength is a surefire way to activate empowerment, and while at first the muscles may whimper and we may feel clumsy or weak, with regular practise we’ll achieve our goals and much more. Through physical perseverance, our self-limiting thoughts of what we can and can’t do are diminished, and we realise it is only ourselves that prevents us from being who we are.

At that moment we are empowered.

Some practical tips for empowerment include:

Find a movement you find difficult to do and practice it every day for 10 minutes

Do downward facing dog for 10 breaths

With a friend, discuss the role of what it is to be a girl and notice any stereotypes

Observe negative thoughts, and remind yourself you are not what you think

Tell yourself each day five things you are grateful for with at least three of these including yourself

 

Soundtrack for empowerment:

Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen